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Mr. Nicholls : In October 1989 the level of unemployment, seasonally adjusted, in the United Kingdom was 1,674,000 compared with 2,857,200 in June 1987, a fall of 41.4 per cent. Unemployment is now at its lowest level for nine years.
24. Mr. Jacques Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom and in other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
Mr. Nicholls : In August 1989, the latest comparable date, the rate of unemployment in the United Kingdom measured on the agreed international basis was lower than in Canada, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain,
Column 191Denmark, Greece and Ireland. Over the past two years the United Kingdom unemployment rate has fallen faster than the rate in any other major industrialised country.
25. Mr. Wood : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when the seasonally adjusted unemployment figures last showed an increase in the number of people out of work ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : The seasonally adjusted unemployment figures last showed an increase in July 1986. Since that date unemployment has fallen by about 1 million or 47 per cent. This is the longest and largest sustained fall on record, and unemployment is now at its lowest level for nine years.
22. Mr. Hill : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the number of people in employment in the United Kingdom and in the other member countries of the European Community.
Mr. Nicholls : In 1987, the latest year for which comparable information is available for all European Community countries, there were 24.8 million people in civilian employment in the United Kingdom. This represents a growth of over 6 per cent. since 1983 ; more than three times greater than the growth rate in the rest of the EC countries combined.
Mr. Nicholls : In October 1989, in the Sheffield travel-to-work area the number of unemployed claimants expressed as a percentage of the total workforce was 8.6 per cent. This compares to a rate of 5.8 per cent. in the United Kingdom.
Mr. Nicholls : The table shows the travel-to-work areas in England and Wales where the number of unemployed claimants expressed as a percentage of the work force was three per cent. or less in October 1989. In the last three years the rate of unemployment has nearly halved in the United Kingdom and this improvement is seen at local level throughout the country.
Unemployed claimants Travel-to-work area |per cent. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Crawley |1.1 Winchester and Eastleigh |1.3 Windermere |1.3 Tunbridge Wells |1.4 Newbury |1.4 Bicester |1.5 Aylesbury and Wycombe |1.6 Guildford and Aldershot |1.6 Cirencester |1.6 Blandford |1.6 Basingstoke and Alton |1.7 Chichester |1.7 Reading |1.7 Andover |1.7 Cambridge |1.7 Bury St. Edmunds |1.7 Kendal |1.8 Evesham |1.9 Oxford |1.9 Woodbridge and Leiston |2.0 Slough |2.1 Clitheroe |2.1 Worthing |2.1 Penrith |2.2 Chelmsford and Braintree |2.2 Kettering and Market Harborough |2.3 Settle |2.3 Malton |2.3 Harrogate |2.4 Devizes |2.4 Bedford |2.4 Leek |2.4 Skipton |2.4 Milton Keynes |2.4 Haverhill |2.4 Hertford and Harlow |2.4 Diss |2.4 Northampton |2.5 Watford and Luton |2.5 Eastbourne |2.5 Hitchin and Letchworth |2.5 Newtown |2.5 Heathrow |2.5 Wareham and Swanage |2.5 Ripon |2.5 Warwick |2.6 Swindon |2.6 Northallerton |2.6 Welshpool |2.6 Newmarket |2.6 Shaftesbury |2.6 Wellingborough and Rushden |2.6 Chippenham |2.6 Poole |2.7 Chard |2.7 Huntingdon and St. Neots |2.7 Ipswich |2.7 Salisbury |2.7 Cheltenham |2.7 Pickering and Helmsley |2.7 Honiton and Axminster |2.8 Banbury |2.8 Brecon |2.9 Spalding and Holbeach |2.9 Bridport |2.9 Ludlow |2.9 Stafford |2.9 Macclesfield |2.9 Yeovil |2.9 Uttoxeter and Ashbourne |2.9 South Molton |2.9 Beccles and Halesworth |3.0 Colchester |3.0 Trowbridge and Frome |3.0 Melton Mowbray |3.0 Stamford |3.0 Fakenham |3.0 Stroud |3.0 Rugby and Daventry |3.0
19. Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what information he has received on the job opportunities provided through employment training to trainees ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Eggar : A recent pilot survey of employment training (ET) leavers shows that over half of the people (53 per cent.) who completed their training went into jobs or self-employment. These encouraging early results provide further evidence of the programme's continuing success in helping large numbers of unemployed people back into work.
20. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of the population aged 55 years and over is expected to remain economically active during the course of the next 10 years ; and what plans he has to combat discrimination on the grounds of age by employers.
Mr. Nicholls : My Department's latest projections which are largely based on past trends, show the proportion of people aged 55 and over who are economically active remaining in the range of 22 per cent. to 24 per cent. over the next 10 years.
We are constantly emphasising to employers that age discrimination is not in their interests, particularly as numbers of young people decline.
21. Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many training and enterprise councils have received funding in the east midlands and eastern region ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 194Over 50 groups of senior employers in England and Wales have applied for development funding ; the table lists the areas from which we have had applications and indicate their status.
List of training and enterprise councils that have applied for development funding |Status ------------------------------------------------------------------------- South East Milton Keynes |Approved Hertfordshire |Approved Essex |Approved Hampshire |Approved Isle of Wight |Approved Thames Valley |Approved Oxfordshire |Approved Kent |Under Consideration London Kingston/Merton |Approved London East |Under Consideration South London |Under Consideration South West Devon/Cornwall |Approved Dorset |Approved Somerset |Approved Avon |Under Consideration West Midlands Birmingham |Approved Walsall |Approved Staffordshire |Approved Coventry/Warwickshire |Under Consideration Dudley |Approved Wolverhampton |Approved East Midlands and Eastern North Nottinghamshire |Approved Norfolk/Waveney |Approved Suffolk |Approved Greater Peterborough |Approved Bedfordshire |Under Consideration Central and South Cambridgeshire |Under Consideration Yorkshire and Humberside Sheffield |Approved Calderdale/Kirklees |Approved North Yorkshire |Approved Rotherham |Approved Leeds |Under Consideration Barnsley/Doncaster |Under Consideration North West Cumbria |Approved East Lancashire |Approved Rochdale |Approved Oldham |Approved South and East Cheshire |Approved Wigan |Approved Manchester |Under Consideration Stockport/High Peak |Approved Bolton/Bury |Under Consideration St. Helens |Under Consideration Northern Teesside |Approved Tyneside |Approved Wearside |Approved County Durham |Approved Northumberland |Approved Wales Mid Glamorgan |Approved North East Wales |Approved West Wales |Approved North West Wales |Approved South Glamorgan |Approved Gwent |Under Consideration
Mr. Nicholls : The Government believe that child care is a matter for parental choice and that it is best left to employers and employees to decide which arrangements for combining work and family responsibilities best suit their individual needs and resources. Workplace child care is not always the most practicable solution.
Mr. Fowler : Since the introduction of the youth training scheme in 1983 well over 2 million young people have benefited from the programme. Over 85 per cent. of young people who complete their training programme now go into jobs, further education or training, and 64 per cent. gain a vocational qualification.
YTS has been a great success, but we now need to build on that success to meet the higher level skills that the economy will need in the 1990s and to enable training and enterprise councils to make the maximum impact in developing arrangments for youth training which will lift the skills and qualifications of young people in their areas. I have therefore decided to introduce new arrangements to promote training for young people to be known as youth training. The central aims of the new arrangements will be to move to a situation where all young people are either in
Column 196full time education or a job with training and have the opportunity to develop their potential, qualifications, and skill to the full. All young people on YT will be offered training and vocational education leading to qualifications equivalent to, at a minimum, level 2 in the framework established by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications. Targets will be set annually for major and progressive increases in the skills to be reached, both generally and at craft and technician levels.
The Government's guarantee will continue. All young people up to the age of 18 who are in the labour market but without a job will be offered a training place on youth training.
There will continue to be a strong emphasis on health and safety and on equal opportunities for young people. There will be appropriate arrangements for identifying and providing for young people who are disabled or who have special training needs.
Mr. Eggar : The adequacy of current measures to enable people with disabilities to participate fully in the workforce is being considered in the review of services for people with disabilities which my Department has been undertaking. A consultative document covering the conclusions reached in the review will be published as soon as possible.
28. Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what steps his Department is taking to help reduce age discrimination in employment practices by employers in the public and private sectors.
Mr. Nicholls : The Government believe that older workers are a valuable resource. Unfair age discrimination both hurts individuals and damages businesses. We are putting across that message to employers through various media, particularly in the context of publicity about demographic change. In addition, jobcentre staff have been instructed to query all upper age limits on notified vacancies. I am encouraged that a growing number of public and private employers are adopting positive policies on recruitment and retention of older workers.
29. Mr. Robert B. Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest information available to him on the percentage of YTS leavers in the Dacorum borough council area going on to (a) full-time employment, (b) part-time employment and (c) full-time education.
Mr. Nicholls : The latest available figures show that 76 per cent. of YTS leavers entered full-time employment, 2.3 per cent. entered part- time employment and 2.6 per cent. entered full-time education in the Dacoram borough council area.
Column 197100. Mr. Butterfill : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of YTS trainees secure jobs within six months of completing their training course ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholls : The British Tourist Authority is co-ordinating and orchestrating the United Kingdom's plans for European Tourism Year, a major theme of which is to encourage tourists to visit different regions. The plans embrace events throughout the country including the Gateshead garden festival.
80. Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action is taken by his Department, in conjunction with local authorities, to ensure that tourist development is not permitted to spoil existing environmental amenity ; and what specific action in that regard he is taking relating to the county of Rutland.
Mr. Nicholls : One of the aims of the English tourist board (ETB), which receives funding from my Department, is to ensure that tourism activities do not work to the detriment of the environment. In September 1988, the ETB launched in conjunction with the Rural Development Commission a publication "Visitors in the Countryside". This sets out how tourism developments can be undertaken whilst preserving or enhancing the environment in rural areas. The publication emphasises the key role played by local authorities in encouraging the development of tourism projects in keeping with this aim. My Department has not singled out the county of Rutland for any specific action in this regard.
42. Mr. Robert Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the level of investment in tourism projects in the south-west following the suspension of section 4 grant aid.
Mr. Nicholls : The most up-to-date figures published by the English tourist board show that the value of tourism projects (worth £0.5 million or more) which were completed during the period January to June 1989 in the region covered by the West Country tourist board was £33 million. Further projects to a value of £155 million were still under construction on 30 June.
Mr. Nicholls : The Government are taking a number of steps to facilitate the re-entry of women to the labour market--through training and through drawing employers' attention to the need to adopt flexible working practices. Childcare initiatives by the ministerial group on women's issues which are aimed at the voluntary and private sectors will also assist, but whether a woman chooses to work full-time or part-time or to stay at home to look after her family must be entirely a matter for her.
Mr. Nicholls : It is estimated from the 1988 labour force survey (LFS) that in spring 1988, the average number of hours usually worked (including paid and unpaid overtime but excluding meal-breaks) by persons in employment in the manufacturing industries in Great Britain, was 42.3 hours per week.
Mr. Eggar : Following discussions with all member states, the French Presidency of the Community has submitted a revised version of the European Commission's proposal for a decision on adoption at the European Council in Strasbourg.
Column 19981. Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make a statement on the pilot survey of the employment training scheme.
Mr. Nicholls : A recent preliminary survey of employment training leavers shows that 53 per cent. of the people who completed their training went into jobs or self-employment. Of those who did not even complete their training as many as 46 per cent. got jobs or went into self-employment. These encouraging early results provide further evidence of ET's continuing success in helping large numbers of unemployed people back into work.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many people for each year since 1975 were on (a) the training opportunities programme, (b) the wider opportunities programme, (c) the job training programme in its original and revised forms and (d) employment training.
Thousands Year Training Wider Job Training SchemEmploy |Opport- |Opport- |ment |unities |unities |Tra- Progra- |Training |ining<1> |mme |Old |New --------------------------------------------------------------- 1974-75 |45 |- |- |- |- 1975-76 |61 |- |- |- |- 1976-77 |90 |- |- |- |- 1977-78 |99 |- |- |- |- 1978-79 |70 |- |- |- |- 1979-80 |91 |- |- |- |- 1980-81 |83 |- |- |- |- 1981-82 |71 |- |- |- |- 1982-83 |73 |- |- |- |- 1983-84 |80 |- |- |- |- 1984-85 |88 |3 |- |- |- 1985-86 |- |55 |55 |- |- 1986-87 |- |92 |69 |2 |- 1987-88 |- |88 |49 |99 |- 1988-89 |- |44 |24 |51 |239 <1>Employment training started in September 1988. The figure shown is cumulative starts for the period September 1988 to March 1989.
Mr. Nicholls : It is not possible to estimate the total number of people in the employment training client group. However, in October 1989 some 812,000 claimants aged 18 to 60 had been unemployed for more than six months.
Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he intends to take in response to the Confederation of British Industry's proposal for giving every 16-year-old a £1,600 cash credit a year towards training.
Mr. Nicholls : There are many issues to be considered before any decision is reached on the recommendation in CBI's task force report in favour of training credits. The Government are examining the report's recommendations with interest.
Mr. Nicholls : Employers are making a vital contribution to the succcess of both the youth training scheme and employment training through their provision of training places. Employer placements give trainees an opportunity to develop and demonstrate skills in a realistic work environment ; ensure that there is a relevant and realistic occupational focus to their training and offer them the best chance of securing a permanent job or self-employment opportunity.
Mr. Nicholls : The latest figures show that over 210,000 people are on employment training. This clearly reflects the programme's outstanding success in attracting unemployed people to take advantage of the help it offers them to get jobs and skills.
Mr. Nicholls : Employment training in Cumbria, as nationally, continues to make excellent progress. It is currently helping nearly 1,500 unemployed people to obtain the skills and experience they need to get jobs.